Anxiety after Brain Injury – Definition and Examples

Anxiety after Brain Injury – Definition

The definition of anxiety is a fearful or painful apprehension of what may happen.  An overwhelming sense that can be displayed in sweating, increased pulse and extreme tension.  Anxiety is one of the most common complaints of traumatic brain injury survivors. It is a symptom that may be treated with anti-anxiety medications.  It can be brought on by even the simplest things.  What may seem to a person without brain injury to be a very minor problem may be astronomical to a person with brain injury.  There are many triggers.  Some when faced with making a decision may have increased anxiety. Trouble with time management may bring on anxiety with a brain injury survivor.

Examples of Anxiety after Brain Injury

Here are some examples or anxiety with TBI survivors in our real life stories told in TBI Voices project where we interviewed over thirty survivors of brain injury.

Our first example is in the story of Angela.  Angela was in a car accident in which she suffered a traumatic brain injury.  One of the issues she had to deal with in her recovery was anxiety.  Before the accident she was a confident, intelligent woman that had become an over achiever in her position as a loan officer.  The amount of information she could retain and process was extreme.  That all changed after her accident and in her recovery.  She became easily frustrated and with frustration came her anxiety.

Angela talks about what she calls “her brain injury voice of despair”.  She continues with a very profound statement,”I have been unable to understand who was injecting such ugliness into my head, when I knew that I was capable of anything, both before and after my accident”. While trying to go back to her job she found herself agonizing over the fact that she not only could not perform her job as she did before her accident but that she could hardly keep up at all.  Over time she did figure out ways to compromise and not be so hard on herself which in turn eased her anxiety. To read all about Angela’s story click here

Another example of anxiety comes from our interview with Fred as part of out TBI Voices project.  Fred was in a head on car collision in which he was at fault.  Besides his broken femur he also suffered a severe brain injury.  He spent two weeks in a coma.  He was hospitalized for a period of about 4 months.  His recovery has been deemed a miracle.  A miracle but not without issues.  His frontal lobe deficits, like many other victims of brain injury included anxiety.  His mother states although he returned home very much like the boy that had left there very much the same.  But there were definitely some issues.  In his mother’s words, “. He still had his issues. He still had to deal with confusion, anger, and forgetfulness. And he would get frustrated because he would see where he was lacking at times.”  To read Fred’s story click here

A lot of anxiety does come from frustrations of not being the same person as they were before the accident.  With time and therapy some of the anxiety will diminish as they begin to understand their deficits and continue their recovery.

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Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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